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A Q&A with Katelijn Quartier, Convenor of the Designing Retail and Service Futures SIG, on their Inaugural Colloquium

A Q&A with Katelijn Quartier, Convenor of the Designing Retail and Service Futures SIG, on their Inaugural Colloquium

The call for papers was recently launched for the inaugural Designing Retail and Service Futures SIG Colloquium, taking place in March 2023. We caught up with Katelijn Quartier, Convenor of the Designing Retail and Service Futures SIG to hear more about the SIG's work, her role as convenor and the upcoming colloquium.  


Please introduce yourself! What is your research about and role as convenor of the Designing Retail and Services Futures SIG? 
I am Katelijn Quartier of Hasselt University, Faculty of Architecture and Arts where I am also the academic director of the Retail Design Lab. My research is about the design of the store of today and tomorrow. With the Retail Design Lab we have developed a platform where designers and retailers can find scientific insights offered in a low threshold manner. We have developed design guidelines and tools to aid practise. We serve retailers and designers, big and small, to get to optimale store designs.
Regarding our SIG, I always felt that designing for the commercial sector falls in between chairs every conference, journal, etc. We had already set up a few events with a small group and noticed that there was interest in this after all. In a next step, we then applied for our SIG and with success. As convenor, I see myself as the initiator of the group. I facilitate the meetings and contribute ideas, just as other members do. If the group is excited about something then we move forward with it, just like the organization of this colloquium. We didn't have to think twice about this, everyone was on board from the beginning. We obviously want to have a bigger impact than organizing a colloquium. We want to be the network where everyone can go who are involved with retail and services.If we can gather all the knowledge at one point, then we can also share that knowledge and aspire to be a reference for both the academic field and for practice. 


What work is your SIG engaged in? How do you aim for the colloquium further the work of the Designing Retail and Services Futures SIG and retail and service design theory and practices more broadly? 
Our SIG strives to get a better understanding of the value of design in the commercial sector, including closely linked disciplines, such as branding, marketing, and consumer psychology. Design and the value of it has been a subject of study for many years and from many different disciplines (ranging from product design to marketing, business economics, service design, environmental psychology, (interior)architecture, etc), but in a rather fragmented way, and with each their own research methods. The colloquium wants to add to that knowledge in the broad field of design but more importantly, bring such knowledge together and develop a common language. Indeed, there is a need to bring these disciplines and related knowledge and insights together to calibrate terms and meanings, to understand each other and to work together. All to be able to create more holistic and more encompassing stories (for the customer). 

The theme of the colloquium is 'Reimagining the future for retail and service design theory and practices’. How did you settle on this theme and how do you hope it will be explored in the conference?
Recent developments, that have been accelerated by the pandemic, show that in practice services are becoming a part of retail and vice versa. It all starts from the need of the consumer and to be able to better serve him/her. Whether it be online or offline, for a product or a service or an experience, or all together… It is only natural that the research world follows this trend. So to mainstream this we came up with the theme as it is closely related to what the SIG stands for. It is our first colloquium so we felt that we had to keep it broad, yet linked to our work. We organised an online brainstorm session with all members. We started to fill in a Miro board one week in advance of the brainstorm session. All ideas gathered were grouped in themes and are now present in the sub themes of the colloquium. So the colloquium is also very exploratory in nature. We want to bring together as many people as possible so that we can have fine discussions in terms of content. Therefore, time has also been made in the program for these discussions. We also organize a special PhD event so that they too can have discussions with peers as well as seek feedback from professors and senior researchers. Of course, fun and inspiration should not be missing either. We are therefore organizing a conference dinner AND a retail safari through London's most inspiring examples.

Finally, everything will also be published so that the knowledge can be further disseminated. In this way, we want to both increase our community and contribute to knowledge. 


Where can people go to learn more about the activities of the Designing Retail and Services Futures SIG? Do you have any information that you’d like to provide for potential members interested in joining the SIG? 
You can contact me at if you're interested in joining the SIG, and visit our webpage to see our organising committee and current members. 

 November 15, 2022